University courses have teach all about the history, government structures, and cultural norms of the Middle East. Many also teach Arabic, the lingua franca of the region. However, there was one thing that all of the studies cannot provide: actual experience in the Middle East. This desire to experience firsthand the traditions and daily life of a culture creates the initial interest for finding a program through which one can travel to the Arab world.
Almost anyone can participate in a study abroad opportunity in college, and they definitely offer students a chance to learn and participate in various cultures across the globe. However, what the Excellence Center offers is incredibly unique. Not only is there the chance to learn and participate in another culture, but also an opportunity to offer one’s own services to a community and try to make even a slight difference in the lives of the people. The Teach English and Study Arabic program at the Excellence Center in Hebron offers the perfect combination of both experiencing and volunteering.
The Teach English in Palestine program allows its volunteers to culturally immerse themselves in daily life in Hebron. While at the Excellence Center, volunteers can learn about the culture through second hand stories and by interacting with the Palestinians that work here. After a day at the Excellence Center, volunteers can experience for themselves how life exists here in Hebron. We can walk the streets, attend restaurants and cafes, and participate in household activities with host families. This balance of learning in a structured environment and also having the ability to learn through experience was one of the major reasons that the Excellence Center entices its volunteers to join this program.
As native English speakers, nothing could be simpler for volunteers than using their native language to speak with others and teach them new vocabulary and grammar. And furthermore, knowing English is an important and sometimes essential skill for individuals attending university, working in professional businesses, or who work in tourism. Therefore, the TESA program offered me an opportunity to make a real impact in people’s lives, which is very attractive when searching for possible abroad programs.
A final main motivation for volunteers to travel to Palestine involves the complicated political situation that exists in the region and the complex history behind it all. Many individuals have heard about the conflict that exists in this region. Travelling to Palestine allows volunteers to witness this firsthand. Travelling and volunteering in the West Bank would offers a chance to learn and help others, while making friends and picking up Arabic along the way. For internationals, the program here in Palestine is a perfect combination of these aspects.